Extreme genealogy

By Editor, 13 August 2009 - 2:29pm

I was accused once of making genealogy sound too easy. I said something along the lines of, ‘it is easy to get started’ in an advertisement feature in Radio Times and someone saw fit to write a letter of complaint stating that she had been researching her family tree for many years and it hadn’t been easy at all.

But the point is, it is easy to get started - and it is the getting started that so many people delay because they are intimidated by this idea of ‘research’ and worry that they won’t have the time. We are all busy. I know people who have retired recently and they say they’ve never been busier!

Anyway, we decided to come up with a ‘14-day Challenge’ in Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine to demonstrate that even if you just dedicate 14 days to researching your family tree, you will get something to show for it. Perfect, I thought, that will encourage all those time-poor people that they too can become family historians. Then, at the back of my head, I thought about the Radio Times reader. What if she found out about our 14-day challenge? What if she tracked me down and confronted me with my claims that genealogy was ‘easy’? She seemed a pretty angry woman and she knew where to find me.

Luckily, my peace of mind was rescued by a bit of daytime TV. I broke my foot recently and the only positive thing to come out of it is that it has introduced me to Heir Hunters. If you can’t catch it during the day, then please watch it on iPlayer and tell me what you think. It is extreme genealogy. In fact it makes our 14-day challenge look like a walk in the park. OK, the researchers at Fraser and Fraser rarely have to go back further than three generations, but the speed with which they do it is breathtaking. If they haven’t added ten people to a family tree by lunchtime they start to look worried. 14 days and they could probably reach back through royalty to Charlemagne and Alexander the Great.

I’m almost hoping that I do get some complaints about our 14-day challenge making family history look too easy. I’ve picked up some great hints from Heir Hunters and I reckon I could make 14 days go a long way. Go on, I’ll race you...

Sarah Williams

Sarah Williams is editor of Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine. Click here to read more from the magazine team

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